Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis deliver for Indians fan living with cerebral palsy

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Sometimes, one can get caught up with all of the negative news that gets reported these days, so it’s good to find a piece like this every once in a while. Per this story by the Associated Press, on Saturday, eight-year-old Niko Lanzarotta and his family were watching the Indians take batting practice prior to last night’s game against the Twins. Niko, living with cerebral palsy, met with some players and asked catcher Carlos Santana and second baseman Jason Kipnis to hit home runs for him.

The two wasted very little time granting their fan his wish. Santana blasted a two-run home run off of Twins starter Liam Hendriks in the first inning and Kipnis hit a two-run shot in the third against Hendriks. Behind a solid start by Zach McAllister, the Indians went on to win 7-2.

From the AP column:

“They told me I was their favorite player, and I promised to hit a home run for him,” Santana said.

“He must be a good luck charm for us two,” said Kipnis, who broke an 0-for-19 slump earlier in the game and homered for the first time since July 21.

Niko’s father added, “It was the best day of his life. To meet Carlos, to be that close, and for him to hit a home run. … To see your kid that happy is a great thing.”

Padres will try to lock up Fernando Tatís Jr. to a long term deal

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The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will try to get Fernando Tatís Jr. locked up in a long-term deal before the start of the 2020 season.

It’d be a wise move from the team’s perspective, of course. Tatís showed in 2019 that he’s the future of the franchise, hitting .317/.379/.590 with 22 homers and 16 stolen bases through 84 games while playing spectacular defense at short. He was a serious contender for the Rookie of the Year Award before going down to injury and still finished third despite playing just a tad over half a season.

That talent and promise means that, in all likelihood, Tatís stands to make massive money in arbitration and free agency once he gets there. If he gets there, that is. Because as we’ve seen so often in recent years, teams have been aggressive in their efforts to lock up young stars like Tatís, buying out their arbitration and at least a couple of their free agency years. These deals tend to be team-friendly, with multiple team options aimed at getting maximal value out of such players before they hit the open market. Of course, the players get much more up front money than they would in the three seasons in which teams can and do set their salaries unilaterally, usually at less than $1 million per year. It’s a standard now vs. later tradeoff, even if the value of the “now” is far less than the value of “later” and even if it pays these guys far less than they’re worth overall.

But that’s the system. And it’s one which will force Tatís to make a tough choice: either take a deal at a time when the team has most of the leverage or else turn down millions in hand now in order take a shot at many more millions later. In his case, he’ll have a rookie season with multiple injuries to think about too. Does that portend future injury issues? Could he, like some players who have been in his shoes before, end up damaged goods by the time he expected to get paid?

We’ll see how both he and the Padres calculate all of that between now and February, it seems.